He had just 14 hours to live, but I didn’t care.
I had just gotten access to the World of Warcraft Beta that morning, only to learn that the actual game was releasing the next day, which meant all the Beta servers would be wiped at 6 am the next morning and all the characters created during the Beta would perish. They’d witness only a single sunset over Azeroth, and then a million pre-programmed voices would concurrently cry out in terror, followed by a dark and lonely silence.
Following that massive digital genocide, a new generation of immortal heroes would be born with access to the real game. These new heroes would live forever in the post-launch Azeroth, eventually becoming binary representations of the hopes and dreams of 13 million mortal human beings.
I’d like to think that I gave Theones more of a life in those 14 hours than most humans will experience in a decade.
Yes, I knew he had less than a day to live, but I still brought Theones into the World of Warcraft. As a human warrior, he was quite boring compared to the half-human half-cow female tauren shaman that I could have created. But I didn’t. Because Theones felt just right.
The week before I had watched a movie called The One, starring Jet Li as everyone. It had made a deep impression on me, specifically for being completely and utterly horrible. I don’t recommend that movie by any means, but I thought it would be funny to name my new warrior The One, knowing that he’d be The Gone in less than 24 hours. That’s irony to a 21-year-old. But Theone was taken on Blackrock server, so I added an “s” and Theones (thee-oh-ness) was born, resplendent in his torn peasant pants and ugly red shirt. He was so weak upon birth that a large rat could kill him in a couple of blows (and did so).
When I wasn’t studying, it came down to a choice between Theones, college football, and parties; and honestly Theones won about half the time.
Theones was no one. It was my job to make him someone. And make him someone I would.
I played World of Warcraft all night until I was coldly booted off for the server wipe. I’d like to think that I gave Theones more of a life in those 14 hours than most humans will experience in a decade. He started off small, killing said rats and insects. But under the guidance of wise Llane Beshere of Northshire Abbey, he quickly mastered skills with sword, shield, and sheer intimidation that had him taking on the infamous bandit Garrick Padfoot within three hours. He ventured beyond, to the idyllic village of Goldshire and the golden fields of Westfall, helping his fellow peasants, battling a massive boar-person called Hogger, and just being all around awesome.
He was so well-rounded he even learned how to cook chicken, fish, and blood sausages! And when he finally died at 6 am the next morning, I felt more alive than I had in days.
I was going to have to buy a copy of WoW. I was going to have to re-birth Theones. And he was going to have to be even more awesome this time around.
He did turn out pretty great, but initially fell short of his potential because I had a lot of studying to do. When I wasn’t studying, it came down to a choice between Theones, college football, and parties; and honestly Theones won about half the time. I’d use those Friday nights to take him on glorious adventures, but his progress was slow. People who had bought the game with me, on day one, had advanced multiple characters to Level 60 (the highest level at the time) and were raiding massive dungeons. They were making history in Azeroth.
Meanwhile, poor Theones just wanted to earn enough gold to buy himself transportation. A horse.
He and my laptop received all of my gaming attention; my Xbox was left gathering dust. From the day I bought WoW until the day I finished college, I did not play a single other game. I prioritized him as much as I could, but it just wasn’t enough. My best efforts had gotten Theones to a meager Level 38 on the day of my graduation.
My life would quickly turn into a lukewarm bowl of turd.
I graduated magna cum laude, but my parents couldn’t make it to my graduation. Not one to feel bad for myself, I went to a few parties, got pretty drunk, and prepared for my reward for the last four years. I was about to step into the American workplace.
Little did I know that the Land of Opportunity was about to totally fuck me. My life would quickly turn into a lukewarm bowl of turd. But Theones, my digital protege — his life would become truly awesome.